Postgraduate study

Linguistics & English Language

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Linguistics & English Language

Linguistics and English Language at Edinburgh is the pre-eminent department for the study of both Linguistics and English Language in the UK, having ranked top in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

We have an outstanding international reputation in many areas of Linguistics & English Language research. We can offer expert supervision across a wide range of topics, including:

  • developmental linguistics, including first and second language acquisition
  • discourse Analysis
  • historical English Linguistics, including the syntax, morphology, and phonology from the earliest periods to the present day
  • language evolution
  • linguistic fieldwork
  • morphology, including word formation
  • phonetics and phonology, including diachronic phonology and the phonology of varieties of English and their history
  • Scots
  • sociolinguistics
  • speech technology
  • syntax and semantics, including theoretical syntax, descriptive syntax of English, diachronic syntax and both lexical and formal semantics
  • various theoretical approaches to the study of language.

The School has expertise in all areas of Linguistics and English Language work, represented by a number of research groups:

  • Developmental Linguistics
  • English Language
  • Language Evolution & Computation (LEC)
  • Language in Context
  • Language Variation and Change (LVC)
  • Meaning & Grammar
  • Phonetics & Phonology

Research in speech technology is carried out at the Centre for Speech Technology Research, a collaboration between PPLS and Informatics:

Each research student receives supervision by at least two members of academic staff, who will meet regularly with you to discuss your progress and wider issues in your field of study. This may include discussion of journal articles or books, and preparation for conference presentations, as well as discussion of your dissertation or draft chapters of your thesis.

Most research students are assigned to a research group, each of which hosts regular research activities.

The department also has a visiting speaker series (the Linguistic Circle), and research students are encouraged to participate in the School’s Language at Edinburgh research network.

The unrivalled holdings of the University and National Libraries and the National Archives of Scotland make study of this subject at Edinburgh especially attractive.

Our students become part of one of the biggest communities of linguists in the United Kingdom.

We have state-of-the art technical and laboratory facilities:

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a related subject.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Email: pplspg@ed.ac.uk
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

You will be asked to add contact details for your referees. We will email them with information on how to upload their reference directly to your online application. Alternatively, they can email their comments to:

You might find it helpful to contact academics in your chosen area to discuss your proposed research and the likelihood of supervision.

In addition to the supporting documents requested on the application form, you should include a research proposal. Your prospective supervisors, in conjunction with the relevant subject Postgraduate Adviser, will consider your research proposal to assess whether they are able to take you on as a student.

If you have been in touch with prospective supervisors, please list them in the Project Arrangements section of your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Email: pplspg@ed.ac.uk
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD